Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook 2019 Vol. 7
In the paddock on Delaware Handicap day. Photo by Allison Janezic.
Correspondent Doug McCoy returns with his weekly Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook, featuring horses to watch, bet-backs, and more.
Horses and races to watch
- R SWEET EXCHANGE (June 24, Race 6) – This Gerald Bennett runner came off a seven-week break with a powerful late run to just miss when dropped back to more comfortable $5,000 claiming level. Should be hard to handle with similar company next start.
- COCKTAIL WAITRESS (June 22, Race 3) – This one smoked through five furlongs in :58.64 while winning by 11 in an off-the-turf sprint and had something left in the tank at the finish. Not to be overlooked turf or dirt.
- LEMONADE THURSDAY (June 22, MTH Race 3) – Even though this runner made his 2019 debut at Monmouth, we’re putting in our list here because he’s shown a liking for the Delaware surface in the past (a win and a second in two starts). The Lemon Drop Kid gelding ran off and hid from a pretty solid optional allowance field around two turns in first start since November and might pop up in a small stake in the area soon.
- MAST COVE (June 24, Race 2) – Accomplished turf sprinter posted a solid second behind odds-on winner Miss Deplorable going five furlongs on the grass. Race was first outing in two months, and mare has four wins and three seconds from 10 lifetime starts over the local lawn.
Jock/trainer Watch: Performers of the week
- Trainer Gary Capuano only sent out four starters but made the most of those opportunities, winning a pair of races and finishing second in another to earn the nod for Spotlight Performer of the week. A 30-year veteran in the Mid-Atlantic, Capuano’s highest purse earnings came in 2008 when his horses earned more than $2 million in purses and he saddled winners at an impressive 29% rate. This season he has already won 19 races overall, including six at Delaware Park, and is on track to better 2018 when he won 31 races. Top horses for the outfit include Captain Bodgit, who won the 1997 Florida Derby and was beaten favorite in that year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and graded stakes winner Cherokee’s Boy.
Handicapper’s tool box
WHAT STATS TELL US (AND WHAT THEY DON’T)
Using stats and probability can play important an important role in any serious handicapper’s work day. But as important as facts and figures may be, it’s advisable to look at those numbers in context before making any decisions.
Take first-time-starter win percentages. Any good bettor always checks a trainer’s first-time-starter win rate when working a maiden race, but the smart ones learn to read between the lines and understand why one trainer’s win rate may be high while another’s is not.
The H. Graham Motion stable is a prime example. Motion is widely regarded as one of the top horsemen in the world, and for that reason any horse he sends out deserves consideration. But if you pay attention to Motion’s training patterns and philosophies, you’ll notice his first time starters win at a rather low rate (he was 6-for-79 last year). But those who watch his young runners closely also know that he is not the type to have a horse cranked up to the max for his racing debut. Many times you can see that initial start for a Motion runner is a learning experience.
That’s why horses from the Motion barn often show great progress in their second and third career starts.
Remember, stats are important but sometimes they don’t tell the whole picture.